Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Career in Christianity . . . Amidst a Loss of Faith

I am experiencing a deep and profound crisis of faith, and it is far more agonizing than I thought it could be.

However, the easy part is continuing to work in the world of Christianity. I can manage the disconnect between my work and my spiritual life just fine. I'm able to see that this Christian stuff is deeply held and more importantly, deeply needed by so many people I care about, that I have no need to take it away from them. In fact, I'm perfectly comfortable continuing to feed them what they need (which is my work).

But the crisis is so deep and so hard, and I don't get any opportunity to talk about it out loud without putting someone else at risk. My church book club last night was hard for me because the Chan book opens up so many areas I'd really, really like to discuss - with full, brutal honesty. And it would be brutal. But instead I had to figure out how to be "not me" in a major way as I led the discussion into this book. I had to lead them "deep" without revealing any of what my real thoughts were. It was a challenge, but mostly, preparing for it just reminded me how deep this crevasse is that I've fallen into, and I don't know how to find my way out.

Well, I do actually.

But anyway, it's not the disconnect between faith and work that's hard. It's simply the inability to be "real" in most of my conversations, and hence, it is all the more difficult to navigate the spiritual crisis.

I'm reading a little book now, "Faith at the Edge" by Robert Wennberg. It has a cool cover too. He totally validates my current experience as a true "dark night of the soul" and doesn't offer platitudes. He acknowledges again and again that part of what constitutes a true spiritual crisis is that it truly does bother you to the point of being agonizing at times. (That's me.) We cannot be accused of simply "not trying hard enough" or "not spending enough time in prayer or in the word." Spiritual crisis is real, and we did not cause it. But I think he ends up by saying, "Don't worry, you're still a Christian" and I'm worried  will not be a Christian as I find my way out of this.

I listened carefully as the women in our group shared what the bok Heaven is for Real means to them. And it was so powerful to see how they are moved and touched and encouraged by this story. Why would I want to take that away from them? (I was never the kind of mom to remove a security blanket or a much-needed thumb-sucking habit. I figured if they need the comfort, let 'em have it.) So I am encouraged that my work is still meaningful in that it helps people and encourages them. (But I really, truly detest the existence of that book Heaven is For Real.)

There is a huge disconnect. I have nobody to talk to, to share these thoughts with. And it's just not fun.

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